When we were eating breakfast yesterday morning, Sydney asked me, "Do we need to get ready to go somewhere?" Nope, I said. Nothing to do today.
"Good! I just want to sit here and eat my oatmeal."
I agreed that not having to be somewhere by 9 am was a fabulous thing, indeed. Of course, by 9:30 both the girls were asking to go visit Grandma at school (daycare), and so a half hour later we were driving down the road. But only because we wanted to not because we had to. And nothing was starting without us. And they could leave whenever they wanted to.
We work pretty hard at not over-scheduling ourselves, but this summer we decided that Sydney could be involved in swim lessons and three different day camps. It happened to be that all three camps were in consecutive weeks that followed the end of swim lessons. First, Vacation Bible Camp at our church. Second, day camp at Royal Ridges Ranch. Third, Vacation Bible Camp at cousin Clover's church.
Whew. We were tired.
The VBCs are only for a few hours, and we don't have to pack a lunch, so the time commitment is actually pretty small. The horse camp was a little more involved what with packing a lunch, and making sure she caught the bus, and lamenting over every piece of clothing that came home stained (with tar? oil? grease? special staining sauce? I grimaced in my laundry room).
Horse camp was also a little more involved for me emotionally. This was the first real adventure for Sydney that I felt quite out of the loop on. I know the organization well enough to feel comfortable with it, but I didn't personally know the adults she had for leaders, didn't know the other kids who were on her team (aside from her two cousins Amanda and Clover), didn't know if she was eating her sandwich or just throwing it away.
She was, for the first time ever, doing something that was rather out of my reach.
With church activities, I'm either involved or I'm related to someone who is involved. With kindergarten, her grandma was her teacher, her sister was a pre-school classmate, and her cousins were also classmates. With ballet, I sit and watch her. I don't own her activities, but I've seen the script and watch the action and know how the story unfolds.
But this? This heading out into the woods to learn about horses and complete obstacle courses and swim in a pool without me watching? It was all hers.
The most I knew was what I learned from attending the Open House the day before camp started, where I learned that Sydney was on the orange team, and that the obstacle course had a big tire campers had to get through.
I'm blaming the tire for some of the stains on her clothes.
Of course, when she got home every afternoon, dirty and exhausted, I nonchalantly tried to pry information out of her. "What did you do today? Who did you meet? What songs did you sing?" Sometimes I'd get the answers I was expecting. She'd serenade us with the songs she'd learn. She'd tell us that she wasn't sure if she liked lunch because no one was there to make sure she ate her sandwich, "so I didn't. And I was sad about that." She'd tell us which water activity they did that day, and what clothing items she'd forgotten to bring home.
Most of the time, though, she kept the stories to herself. Maybe there weren't really any stories to tell. She actually never seemed all that excited about whatever it was she was doing. We'd give her little tasks to do--learn someone's name today ("I learned TWO names today!"), try not to cry during the obstacle course ("I only cried once today!"), remember to bring home your lunch box ("Tada! My lunch box!")--but all in all it was her camp and only a few bits and pieces floated back to us.
I realize now that it's happened: Sydney is going to have stories that will be hers, and I'll only be allowed to be a part of whatever she chooses to share with me. Even when she does tell me stories, some still won't be ones I'd share here because...well, because they aren't mine to tell.
It's a little scary for both of us, I think, but also exciting. I love seeing her grow up, and I love hearing how something she's learned at home has transferred to a decision she makes out in the big world. Like how eating carrots for lunch is a good healthy decision, even if she "didn't really want to, but I did, because it's important."
I know Jason and I still have huge roles in the story of Sydney's life, but little by little she's writing her own lines, discovering her own role, and finding a space on the stage that's all hers.
I'm so proud.